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And more importantly, Van Atta refuses to caricature either Clay or other members of the pro-compromise forces.

Wolf by the Ears

Taking their concerns seriously, and detailing the variety of local and other competing interests and priorities that led them to support the compromises, greatly enrich his account. Although strong on the background and the course of the crisis, this book falters a bit when dealing with the aftermath. The long chapter devoted to this theme ranges from the s through the s. This chapter is hardly devoid of value.

The Wolf by the Ears

But those focused contributions only highlight by contrast how diffuse the rest of this chapter is. On the one hand, this underdevelopment of the s can be excused rather easily by the embryonic state of the historical literature on that period. Another critique worth mentioning is that Van Atta advertises a theme or thesis that he never makes completely clear. But while he occasionally repeats this nation-building angle, that proves to be no substitute for clarifying exactly what this means.


But especially for an audience that by design includes undergraduate students, that brief elaboration comes too little, too late for a theme or thesis for which Van Atta seems to have desired a central role. Apropos of the undergraduate audience for which this book series seems in large part designed, this book seems likely to have mixed results with them. Its length — pages of text — is well-designed for the classroom. But while the book is certainly not boring, neither could it be called a page-turner.

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To be fair, it would be exceedingly difficult to combine both a gripping narrative and the sort of broad synthesis of a vast range of scholarship, and Van Atta has arguably made the responsible choice by pursuing the second option. Suffice it to say that this book will therefore be more likely to be valuable to than beloved by undergraduate readers.

What scholars will take from this book will depend entirely on how well-versed they are in the burgeoning literatures relevant to the Missouri Crisis. And because Van Atta synthesizes so much scholarship, even the small if growing band of historians of the early national politics of slavery will derive benefits here and there throughout the narrative. The difficulty was made immediately clear by those rushing forward to tell the Secretary what he meant. All of which is certainly true.

have a wolf by the ear(s)

The restive mood over testing—and the associated threat to reform—is not limited to teachers. Meanwhile, a second poll by Education Next this week shows strong support for other aspects of the reform agenda. Charter schools, tax credits to fund scholarships for low-income students, even vouchers poll well.

Test-based accountability is turning teachers against the Common Core and presumably against other efforts to raise standards at the same time as politics is turning the broader public against the Common Core in part by associating it with mindless standardized testing. It seems fanciful to think we can expect teachers to commit themselves wholeheartedly to reaching higher standards while holding the threat of test-based performance reviews over their heads.

From Autumn To Ashes – Holding A Wolf By The Ears on Spotify

The most reliable means we have of evaluating performance is deeply unpopular. The popular means are deeply unsatisfying, squishy, and easily manipulated. Our relationship with testing is like holding a wolf by its ears.

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